You Has (11/04/18)

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for so long.  The last few weeks have been horrendous and  sad and now the joy has started to spring back in and I think it’s time…

Just over two weeks ago on the first Monday of the Easter holidays we said goodbye to our lovely miracle dog Lola.  I didn’t write a blog post because I couldn’t.  I posted some of the many photos I’ve taken instead. I literally couldn’t find the words to say how much this beautiful loving soft soul had impacted our lives since we brought her home from the local SPCA about 11 years ago.

Lola joined us when we had to say goodbye to our gorgeous lurcher girl Cara.  Aisling was only a toddler and Niamh hadn’t yet arrived.  We arrived at the sanctuary and I took one look at the dog with the half black half white face jumping up and down like a loon and said, “that’s our dog”.  She took some settling time with our lurcher Finn but was well able for him.  She was a bundle of energy.  Always up for a play, always up for a snuggle and always full of love.  She grew with us as we welcomed our second daughter Niamh, and became my chief assistant mammy – she’d come and wake the girls in the morning with me, and stick her big wet beautiful snout in their ear or face to wake them.  She was ceaselessly loving and gentle as well as being soft and fluffy and beautiful.  She was fun – so much fun.  She had a great love for the beach and trying to catch stones (I’m sure she had a few chipped teeth!) and loved to bark until you’d throw her stones.  She didn’t bother with other dogs at all when we were out, apart from one local lurcher boy called Duke – who she went hilariously girly and wriggly for every time we met him.  She was fantastically patient when we got Ted after Finn passed away and put up with his efforts to get her to play like the lovely patient gorgeously kind old lady she was.  She loved us all unconditionally, always.  Even the newbie.    She was relentlessly happy and loving.  Everyone who visited our house or encountered her loved her and she always loved them right back. She even starred in her own series of “You has” photos on social media – her steroids gave her that ravenous beastie appetite that meant she’d know if you were so much as thinking about food!  She was unbelievably photogenic. 

Two years ago we discovered that Lola had liver failure and the vet said she had about 6 weeks if we were lucky.  We switched her to raw food and she came back to health and happiness pretty fast.  Every day since then was a bonus.   She’s been slowing a bit since Christmas and after some seriously horrible vomiting bouts, began refusing food unless it was chicken and carrots and sweet potato or a treat!  She then began refusing that food about a month ago and returned (much to my relief) to her raw food and had a few days where things began to look good again.  Then she got a bit yellow, then very yellow and started to lose weight and sleep a lot.  Her back legs were quite wobbly and she was very slow for the first time on what proved to be her last walk on the Sunday at Tinakilly Avenue.  She always barked to go for a walk when you mentioned the word.  She loved being out with us all.  We knew the day she didn’t would be one of her last.  I wasn’t sure that Sunday was it, but when we had to stop a few times on the short walk we do with her, I did wonder. 

Lola collapsed trying to get up the stairs to bed on the Monday morning about 4am.  I heard her reach the top, then tumble down our small winding stairs.   She couldn’t move but eventually got up to go outside briefly then came in and conked out on her bed.  We had put her bed in the kitchen and wrapped her up to keep her warm.  We surrounded her and loved her and sat with her and let her know she wasn’t alone. We talked about all the funny shit she’d done down through the years and the lovely things she brought to our lives:  joy, fun, kindness, softness, loyalty and fierce companionship.  We laughed a lot.  We cried.  We took her to the vet a few hours later and said goodbye.    The week following is a bit of a blur and my recollection of it is that it was bleak and empty.  Ted slept even more than usual and spent a lot of time at the window waiting.  We were all missing our lovely, beautiful, bright, funny, fun loving, loving, kindly Lola.  The things I miss most are her night time groaning and her big soft wet nose in my face every morning.  I’ll get over the groaning but don’t know if I’ll ever get used to not being woken that way.  I’m not sure I want to. 

A friend sent me a beautiful quote about grief being love with nowhere to go and I believe that this is part of why we decided to start looking for another dog pretty much straight away.  I know our pounds and rescues are full of dogs needing homes.  I know our house is full of big hearts wanting a dog for us and for Ted.   I know Lola was one of those dogs,  as were Finn and Cara before her.  We did some searching on line and found a few possibilities.  I put some feelers out and I expected it would take a long time between emails, phone calls and visits to meet dogs as well as home checks etc.  BUT we were super lucky to get a home visit a day or two later, and to meet our new lady just two days after that and know almost straight away she was our dog.  So we brought home Sophie, a gorgeously affectionate, patient, playful, brindle lurcher.  She hopped on the sofa as soon as we came home and tried to cuddle up with Ted.  The Epic One was less than impressed with this infringement but tolerated it and even rose to a few friendly sniffs and a wag of the tail. 
The second week of our holiday was taken up, in total contrast to the first, with getting to know a new beautiful soul and helping her settle in to our family.  She fitted right in almost straight away.  We’ve had one or two nights when she cried for someone to snuggle up with.  Ted is very much a solo snoozer and snaps at anyone who disturbs his sleep and she desperately wants him to allow her closer.  She has allowed him space and slowly but surely, with great care and determination is edging closer by the day.   She was the same with playing.  She really needs him to play more, but is very patient with him when he doesn’t want to or as it seemed at first – he was just too afraid to and didn’t know how.   She has gently, slowly and surely showed him the ropes and this week he’s taking the lead and chasing her.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch.   In the last day or two they seem to have reached a whole new level of familiarity.  They’re moving more as one.  They hang out in the same room and when one moves, so does the other.  They even synchronise poops and pees!  Seriously! 

I was telling someone just yesterday about what happened with Lola.  I burst into tears.  I realised afterwards that I had not had to relay the story to anyone in a while and that Lola’s passing will stay with me for some time.  In the end although we were all heartbroken and things happened so quickly, Lola the miracle dog got to live her life to the max right up till that last 24 hours.  When it all went wrong she was held tight, loved and comforted by the people who loved her most in the world.   When it was needed we braced ourselves and made the call.  We did what had to be done and were there till long after her final heartbeat.  We felt that lovely soft fur for one final time and said goodbye.

I miss all the dogs I’ve had that have passed.   I always will.  Lola is no exception.  Her loyalty and that big wet soft beautiful snout in my face in the morning left an ache that’ll never go.  This morning a pointy brindle lurcher girl named Sophie stuck her little wet snout in my ear before licking as much of my shoulders and neck as she could.  I woke up giggling.  When I did get her to settle she stuck her snout in the crook of my neck and went to sleep.  I lay there enjoying every second.  It’s precious snout time that I’ll never take for granted.  Ever.

I am amazed at the enormous love that happens between us and our dogs.  I’m constantly honoured by the return of that love from such amazing hounds and humbled by their loyalty.  I will always be grateful for each one and how they ceaselessly expand our capacity for love and remind us to remember that love, fun, food, snuggles and a good walk daily are in fact, the recipe for the good life if you do it all in the right company.    I count our family very lucky to be heartbroken, at this rate on a pretty regular basis, by the passing of a family member as wonderful as the dogs we’ve had grace our lives.  We’ll keep doing it.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.
xxx

If you are thinking of getting a dog, please go and adopt from your local rescue , shelter or pound and not from a breeder!  And please please think of a lurcher or greyhound who are much neglected and abused and make the most fantastic pets (as long as you can make room on the sofa and in your bed). 

Order from Chaos (25/02/18)

I don’t cope well with changes, particularly changes in my home environment.  We’ve  been fixing up our house for the last few years, bit by bit and room by room and we just made the final topsy turvy turnabout of bedrooms before we are done indoors.  We’ve got our old bedroom back and once again separated the kids.  I have full faith that peace and joy and settling in will be the order of the day once the rooms are painted.  Painting’s been delayed and is due to start Tuesday.  Snow is due to arrive Tuesday also, so I’m not holding out too much hope for completion this week.   The house has been chaotic.  Niamh told in her school news last week that she’s moved into her new room and that it has holes in the walls!  A lot of the time I have no idea where things are and then some of the time I know exactly where that thing we never used that has been unearthed in the moving is because I’ve finally found it a home.

I find the anticipation of the chaos almost worse then the real event and tend to go into denial about the pending madness before it happens.  Then I ease into it and finally accept it at the point where it’s back in my hands to return order of some sort.  But it puts me out.  I get really tired really easily anyway, but when this sort of stuff is ongoing I burn bright early in the day then fade early. I need serious rest to replenish and start again, so early nights have become order of the day and if I’m tired I stop.  This is all new to me.  I would normally just keep going and not stop for some rest and self-care.  Niamh came down with a dose this weekend and so did I.   Yesterday morning I worked (slowly and with breaks!) on stuff around the house, then after lunch I showered and took to the sofa till about 730, when I went to bed.  I slept through with one brief waking to reclaim some bed from Epic. I feel heaps better today. 

I posted something during the week about self care and it prompted conversations with a few of my friends about what that really means.  It’s about saying, “I feel overwhelmed/cranky/sad/ill” when I do and accepting the support and love that comes when you say that.  It’s like magic – seriously!  It is about slowing down and stopping if I need to.  It’s linseed tea first thing in the morning.  It’s drinking water, lots of it.  It’s taking the time out to look at the good stuff.  It’s scribbling for hours in a journal to make sense of something that’s on my mind.  It’s fresh stuff – food and air.  It’s the beach.  It’s a mossy forest.  It’s being the centre of a dog sandwich.  Music.  Chatter with children.  Banter with Spud.  Snuggling.  Poetry.  Touching base with all the things that remind me what matters.  And yes, it can be a bath or some physical treat like a massage or just looking after my body, but it can also be that extra 10 minutes in bed when it’s too hard to face the day just yet, or that square of chocolate offered by a smiling noodle.  It’s different for us all I know but the recurring theme for me is acknowledging that it’s important and keeping that focus. 

On Thursday one of my kids had a heavy door closed on her hand at school.  Shortly after I made an appointment for my eldest daughter to have her ankle checked, I had to collect the youngest from school because of the hand and the headache and the feeling ill.  I dropped her home to my husband, went to work, then met my hubby with the eldest at the doctors to get the ankle checked.  They sent us straight to x-ray where a lovely doctor declared a green stick fracture and put her in a boot for two weeks.  Bear in mind we have the beast from the east on the way and she’s looking forward to snow time – and bitterly disappointed that she will be housebound for it all.  I’m a bit ashamed to say this sort of day would normally knock the stuffing out of me entirely in the past. I’d fine inspiration to remember myself from Aisling Fitzgibbon this week so I had a 10 minute snooze when we got in and a little time to myself and then got on with the day afterwards.  I took it in my stride much more than I have in the past because I can stop when I need to look after myself so that I don’t crash and burn.   It’s been a really good lesson to me and I hope it’s a good lesson to my girls – one of whom (I’ll let you guess!) goes at things things at full speed herself until she hits the wall (or the stairs!) too fast. 

At the back of my mind I have this website and making it the place I want it to be.  This too would normally also drive me into overwhelm mode – thinking about the what needs to be done and how to do it and letting the ideas and thoughts take over my spare moments.  But that would totally defeat the purpose of making a conscious decision to choose the joy.  It would suck all the joy out of the why and the how and the craft of making it.  So it’ll be slow but it will be lovingly and joyfully built in calm waters. 

In a world where speed and efficiency reign and slowing down is seen as lazy, we need to push back and take our time back for ourselves.  Put on the music, make the hot cuppa, get doing what lights you up and look after yourself.  There will be days it’s to a minimum, but don’t forget it altogether and you’ll reap the rewards.  Everything else will still be there when you’re done but you’ll be better able for it all if you’ve topped up your stores and looked after yourself first. 

Have a happy, easy, lazy Sunday!  xxx

Diets Suck! (22/01/18)

It’s that time of year again – new year, new you!  I’ve so done this most of my adult life.  Resolutions, weight loss, getting fit, being different to what or who you are right now.  Handing money over weekly to be weighed, measured and put on a plan that I knew would have me obsessing and counting and only losing weight while I stayed “on plan” and continued handing over my money.  I often thought that there must be a better way to be healthy that didn’t entail so much punishment and joylessness around food and exercise.

Well it’s here.  Nutriri has a (free for now) online course, which has been developed through Helen James’s personal experience of running a group for the last two years.  Nutriri is a social enterprise seeking to free people from restriction diets and to support them through mindful eating and compassionate self care as the means to achieve their goals.  The course can be accessed here and is constantly being added to.

I’ve just completed the course and it has really enlightened me on my own food habits and helped me to change my relationship with food.  I believe that engaging with the platform by commenting and by joining the Facebook group linked on the course is imperative to the course working for you and for others and would encourage anyone doing this to do so.

And if you want to hop on board Nutriri and join in a really positive movement for change then please check out these links:  Website, Facebook ,Instagram, LinkedIn

Silver Sparkly Lining (13/01/18)

Sick week.  Sinus infection and the lowest mood in a long time.  Lots of TLC with TED and Lola who are rest and relaxation experts.  The upside?!  Books to read!

This one especially.  Opened it on twenty-two (number of my childhood home) and it blew my mind.  If you like raw, candid pain transformed to beauty in words and wrapped up in stardust and magic then this is for you.  Tanya writes straight from her heart and soul and this book touches mine to the core. It’s deeply personal, wonderfully nourishing and ultimately empowering.  It brings me back home to myself,  creativity, nature, strength and heart-filled living.  Simply put, it’s just a sparkly beautiful gem of thing.

I do believe this book will be well travelled and dog eared in no time.  As it should be.

You can acquire this gem on Amazon here The She Book and experience more of Thug Unicorn/Tanya Markul’s magic on her website Thug Unicorn with links to all her social media accounts too.

Anyone for a Dip? (29/12/17)

Every year in early June a group of women meet to go skinny dipping at a secluded beach in Wicklow.  In 2018 they are hoping to smash the World Record for the world’s largest skinny dip.  It promises to be an amazing event for all who take part and one which will you will definitely be glad you took part in.

Organiser Deirdre Featherstone says she decided to organise the first dip around two days after her mastectomy.  “I felt so crappy and I wanted some good to come of this.  I didn’t want a “normal” fundraiser I wanted something fun and then all of a sudden a skinny dip came into my head and cheered me right up.    One night I set up a FB event and basically blackmailed friends into coming with me… I said I am bald and only one boob so you can too…. so they did.   First year was around 65, next around 89, then 90, then 200 and next year hopefully around 1.5k.”

Deirdre chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie as the charity the event fundraises for.  “The reason I chose Aoibheanns Pink Tie is that it’s a woman’s event.  We are all either mammies, aunties, friends with kids etc. and Childhood Cancer gets very little funding as opposed to Breast Cancer.”  You can find out more about Ireland’s National Children’s Cancer Charity Aoibheanns Pink Tie here.  Further details on fundraising and FAQs are available here.

The ladies at Fabulously Flawsome know the magic that happened the day of our photoshoot – there was something special from us all being there together and it’ll stay with me always.  I really hope we’ll have a bunch of us together for this event too (currently there are three of us!).  Asked about her favourite thing to come from the swim, Deirdre says, “The best thing for me without a doubt is the camaraderie among the woman, the laugh we have, the unity and people who really didn’t want to do it and were pushing their boundaries coming prancing up the beach in the nip with not a care in the world.”

So what if you’re on the fence?  Shy?  Unsure?  “I would honestly say for anyone who feels a little shy about doing it and feel they do not have the courage:  there are many women at it who have lost breasts, there is a woman who has lost an arm, there are woman from a size 4 to a size 24 and NOBODY cares one bit – it’s all about us and having fun and inspiring others.”

The swim takes place on June 9th and you will need to register here for the event and pay a registration fee of €10.   It takes just a few moments. 

There is a Facebook page for the event here and you can head to the website.

So ladies, get ready to get your kit off and make a splash in June.  It promises to be an uplifting event that will be one to remember and perhaps even revisit in the years to come.  Will 2018 be the year  you cast off your shackles, fears and clothes to go skinny dip and break some records?!  See you there.  xxx

Many thanks to Deirdre for her time in answering my questions.

The Road to Here (19/12/17)

I’ve recently had to piece together my journey to this point for someone  in relation to my body positive adventure.   It was a really interesting look into my past that I found really hard at points, and really eye opening in others.  It also made me realise how totally epic this year has been (although it’s brought great sadness too).  It seemed appropriate to include it in my blog somehow both as a review and as I truly believe that by sharing our stories we inspire and connect with others we may not even know we reach.  I’d hope someone can relate and if it helps even one person then I’m made up!  Thanks Helen James & the nurturers for the prompt!

So how’d I get here?  My experience of being body shamed started early. I had an aunt who I used to regularly hear tell my mother that I was a) too quiet and b) too thin – it was high time she fed me properly and got some weight on me – I’m talking as early as 6/7 years old! Apparently way back then, I looked like a starving child. I was thin, quiet, introverted and happy in my own company. As a teenager I grew tall and terribly skinny – I was stretching up as some teens do – but I was too thin I was told. I can still remember one summer attempting to put on weight because I was told I was too thin. I had no idea at the time why it mattered, just that my mother had wanted me to put some weight on so I wouldn’t look so miserable (most likely prompted by that auntie!).

Somewhere along the line I must have been sufficiently acceptable weight wise (or I didn’t care!) and I forgot about my weight through my teens. I was tall, skinny and still introverted but with a great group of friends who all supported each other through those bloody awkward teen years with a dash of madness and good humour. I can remember reaching my late teens and thinking I’d like to be more curvy, but weight wasn’t something that I really thought about too much at that time. My mother was a regular dieter – we had weeks of very specific diets where she had to food combine and during those two week stints she’d knock herself out over feeding the rest of the family and jumping on and off the scales. It was a constant in our house.   She had her own health issues that contributed to this too which I guess I only really learned the true reach of much later in my life.

I never worried about my weight or dieted until my late 20s when I started to gain weight a little bit more easily. I did a few diets – I can remember going to weight watchers for the first time prompted by my sister so that I could look good for my wedding. I jumped right in and bought it all – I counted points and kept track of everything. I lost weight. I still wasn’t happy with how I looked though. I think at some point around 2 months before my wedding I decided I wasn’t going to stay miserable and that I would look after myself and maintain rather than beat myself up for not losing more. I vowed to enjoy it. I have a photo of myself on that day where you can see my lovely little round belly. I used to hate that picture, but now it brings me great joy that even then, in the midst of it all I knew I just had to love myself better.

Fast forward a few years and deciding to quit smoking – hardest thing I’ve ever done and definitely when I started to gain weight again. Probably another thing that set me off dieting like crazy again! I tried so many different ones. Atkins was a big hit and I lost whilst feeling well but being slightly carb crazy (I can remember my very lovely boss asking if she could go get me some pasta one day!). I tried weight watchers again, juicing, low GI, the list goes on and on and there are many books I purchased to help me find the right thing for me. I tried lipotrim and the weight flew off. I missed food though. But I was slim again so I persisted.

I had my first baby and felt even more acutely that the weight needed to go and spent a few years yo-yo-ing with the lipotrim diet again. I lost a heap of weight and had my second child. Then considered the old lipotrim to get back in shape – but it didn’t really work. It was harder, the weight was slower to come off and I was miserable. I realised that it wasn’t working because I’d possibly done it too many times. It felt like metabolism had changed and slowed. I stopped and started trying to eat healthy instead. I really didn’t want to have my children ask why I wasn’t eating meals with them. It was too harsh and unnatural. A friend was joining slimming world and asked if I’d go with her. We both had a bit of weight to lose so off we trotted once a week to be weighed in and shamed. And I bought into it – every week for a few months, before I realised that I had been eating far better food without it. There was big encouragement to low fat foods – what I like to call chemical shitstorm food. And the dreaded queue to get weighed in and asked why I hadn’t done better. And I was paying for this. I didn’t last at slimming world. I left when we got to Christmas that year and didn’t go back.

I was also struggling with depression at the time and feeling very low on energy and joy. It was a pretty bleak few years. My family situation changed hugely after the sudden death of my father and my mother currently resides in a nursing home with dementia and Parkinson’s.  After antidepressants and therapy didn’t leave me feeling any better, I decided to take a different approach a few years ago. I came off the antidepressants and did a month clean eating kick starter. I felt slightly but not much better physically but my mind definitely felt a lot clearer. I took myself to the doctor for full testing and he advised that I had hypothyroidism. I can still remember my visit when he told me that I just needed to take the tablets and that the weight should start falling off after about a month. At this point how I felt was more important but I took his word for it and started taking my tablets daily. I felt better after a month for about a month and then it all started to go downward again. My hormone level would rise and fall and my medication with it. I continued this way until a few months ago.

About a year ago I saw a trailer for Embrace and signed up for email notification of when it was coming to Ireland. I cried (I think it was sheer relief) when I saw the trailer and knew it that I had to see it. I saw it with my eldest daughter (who was 11 then) in January of this year and it has totally changed my life. It was like someone turned on the lights, or an acknowledgement of something I always knew deep down inside but was never able to express. It was exhilarating, liberating and sad in turn – exhilarated to embrace the rest of my life and feeling free to do so with vigour, but oh so sad at the wasted years and money and attention I had poured into being the right shape – for who?! How had I been so easily duped for so long? I can’t believe it took me 46 years to get past noise and BS I’d been spoon fed by a media intent on keeping me unhappy with my body no matter what I did. I wondered how to take this into my own life and grow it, but determined pretty early on that it was high time to take on some serious introspection and self-care. I knew this was something that I could do – it was a change that I could make all on my own and it was entirely in my power and will to change. It smelt like freedom. I applied to become an ambassador fully confident that I could contribute to a new conversation and encourage others to join me in throwing off the shackles of a life spent being at war with my body.

I hosted a screening of Embrace and well, then it just took on a life of it’s own. It was mostly friends and friends of friends. The feedback after the screening was incredibly moving and there were tears and laughter and heaps of embraces. We formed a local group (Fabulously Flawsome) and we took to the beach for a photoshoot in June of this year.  12 strong and wonderful souls met on the beach that day and created a bond that was utterly magic. We used the photos to promote a second screening and vowed to do all we could to promote the message of Embrace, the body image movement and to build a group open to all who want to live their best life, happy in their skin. The company of this group and the conversations and friendships that formed from it have been amazing and so inspirational. It is incredibly moving to see what support, love, encouragement and a sense of camaraderie can achieve. People’s lives have been transformed and there were others who were touched by the message, but who still struggle to truly embrace themselves as they are now. I would dearly love to help these people get to where they want to be.

Having had enough of the to and fro on my thyroid medication with pretty horrible side effects this summer, I stopped taking my medication. I did a three month coaching plan with a nutritional therapist and it turned into more of a mentorship than anything else! It has been hugely helpful in teaching me to listen to body and to eat and treat my body in a more intuitive way. I feel very lucky that this year I seem to have found just the right people to help me along my way at just the right time. I’m still doing heaps of work on myself but I’m doing pretty ***king fantastic so far and I can honestly say this year has been amazing!  I’m aiming to do a blog post just about this very subject in the new year and if she’ll agree an interview with her explaining how she works  her magic, but for now you can find out more about Aisling’s services by visiting her website  or Facebook.

I still have slump days when I am tired or I feel a bit frumpy or down on myself but they are no way near as bleak and dark as the way I had been feeling before. I feel so much more at ease and calm and trusting that whatever the feeling is it will pass. I’m happy in my own skin, I’m listening to my body and I’m more free and empowered to look after myself than I have ever been before. I want this feeling for anyone out there who has ever struggled with being happy in themselves for any reason. I want to help people to realise that they should feel empowered masters of their own lives and break the chains that bind them to old stories and thinking that keeps them trapped.

I’ve been asked lots, “But how do you Embrace?”  It’s a massive question and it is different for everybody.   You start with one small thing and build on it.  That can be whatever strikes a chord and resonates with YOU.  I can’t tell you what that is – you need to find it yourself.  I can tell you there are so many things out there to help you on your way though.  Google body positivity, self care, mindful eating.   Research the things you think will work for you, things that you know will enrich your life so much that you’ll want to keep doing them!  I’ve had a chain of things that lead me from Embrace to Unstoppable and beyond to sources of inspiration and transformation and connections I know have changed everything for the better.  I followed the joy – the things that resonated and felt like home.  The things that made me scream “FUCK Yeah!” or cry, or laugh, or both.  A tiny thing but one which was massive was a massive cull of my social media feeds.  I endeavour to keep them as positive and inspirational as possible – just for myself!  It makes a huge difference.  I’ve also somehow managed to do this in real life too and find myself surrounded by an amazing tribe of people who have helped grow my spirit, broaden my mind and embrace who I really am.  Life can be hard and it’s imperative to have that fabulous foundation of love and support to carry you through the good and the bad.

For those of you interested in learning more Embrace You has just launched recently and is a practical, inspirational and fun online course to prompt you to find your joy and Embrace.   I’m just about to have the time to embark on this myself so can fill you in more in a few weeks.  It promises to be more Taryn magic though and I know it’s going to leave me buzzing!  You can sign up at Embrace You!  Please note that I’m an affiliate of Embrace You and as such may receive payment if you purchase this product.

Another beautiful project and something I’m looking forward to being more involved in in the New Year is Nutriri.  Helen James has spearheaded this social enterprise and has been running a group in Axminster, UK, which encourages mindful eating over restrictive diet plans and providing those attending the group with the skills to feel at ease with themselves and their food choices.  I believe Nutriri is the much needed alternative to the massive business that is slimming clubs and diet culture.   I’m excited to be part of something so amazingly progressive and positive  and have  thrown my name in as someone willing to train and run groups in the future so watch this space for updates and please visit  the website  for more info and maybe get involved in this wonderful movement for change.

So my lovelies, that’s it for this year.  I am now officially finished work for Christmas and looking forward to blowing this sore throat/viral out of my system this week so that I can sit back and relax and spend some time with my tribe.  Please, if you’re reading my blog and interested in anything I’ve mentioned and want to get in touch do comment or give me a shout as I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a very Merry  Christmas and a Happy New Year.

xxx

How a Body Hater Became a Body (and life) Embracer (09/11/17)

Thanks to my lovely fellow flawsomer and blogger Alison Murphy for the invite to guest blog on her page.   Yikes!  My first foray into blogging ever!  My teens and tweenager will cringe!  The reason behind the hijacking of Alison’s page is twofold.  To give you readers a glimpse into my life (how riveting!) and to explain  the effect seeing the wonderful  documentary “Embrace” created by Taryn Brumfitt, has had on my ever changing and expanding life and consciousness.   Sounds good?   Now let’s hope I don’t fall flat on my face!

Me.   Lorna Doorley a native of the Garden County now residing in the lake filled county of Roscommon.  Five children, one husband , two dogs, two cats and a very happy contented life filled with simple pleasures like walking , yoga, cooking, and for good measure a large dose of ferrying children here and there , the usual stay at home mother stuff.

I am nothing out of the ordinary.   Like so many women I know, I carried a burden from my early teen’s right through to my early 40’s.  A burden that too many people are struck down with in their early years , a gift from the media and consumerist society we inhabit , where “how it looks” is King (or Queen) and being brainwashed that sticking out , quite literally in any area is to be avoided at all costs.  The never ending quest for the “perfect” body and hating the perfectly working body I had was an affliction that I had for 25 years.   My first diet was at 17.  When I look back now at the photos of my Debs ball (teens ask your parents….it goes hand in hand with cassette tapes and recording songs off the radio!) it saddens me so much that I could not accept and love the beautiful body I had then.

The pursuit was endless.  The diets followed one after another.  The obsession was tiring.  Needing to be the slimmest I had ever been on my wedding day.  Then after each of my children were gifted to me and my incredible body grew them and carried them into this world and fed them , I continued to berate it , criticise, analyse and deprive it only to find myself then harming it with excess food.

For every breakthrough there has to often come first a rock bottom.  For me it came in 2015. Some months after having my 5th child, who needed to come in to the world through the sun roof (C-section) I presented myself at the latest fad slimming club…definitely not a diet folks …no way… feeding your body from a place lacking in intuition and relying on the instructions from a company IS A DIET (in my opinion…you are entitled to yours).  So I began, checking the book, the weekly weigh in all the time buying into the idea that YES I deserve the best YES I deserve to love and care for myself- but ONLY in the event of my body being smaller.  How could I love it bigger?

So I did it! Got to the acceptable target weight and for one weigh in I saw less than X stone for the first time since before I had my children . FOR ONE WEIGH IN! ONCE!  I stepped on the scales next week and was creeping back to my old weight, which I know have learned is my set point weight and is higher probably because of 25 years of yo yo dieting.   Anyhoo..   One day the kind leader was speaking to me as  I had slipped out of the “target “ weight bracket (there’s a surprise) and I burst into tears, the dawning realisation that I would have to maintain this obsessive behaviour for the rest of my days hit me like a tonne of bricks (or like the two stone I had lost).  I could no longer do this. My spirit was broken. I missed out on so much through my obsessiveness.  I lived in a perpetual vicious circle of shame and regret, steeling my resolve to try again only to fail and then the merry go round would begin again. I went home that day and took a sledge hammer to my weighing scales – that was the most liberating thing I had done in years!

Then I found a clip on You Tube about the documentary Embrace and saw an advertisement that it was being shown in Longford for International Women’s Day. I took myself off and boy was I blown away. I wasn’t the only one feeling the way I did. I wasn’t the only one seeking a way out to freedom from body obsession, the end to the torment in my mind and the concern about how I looked to others.   I am free today.  I live an abundant life, full of joy and contentedness.  I no longer weigh myself.  I don’t care about the label on my clothes.  I am free.  The key to this journey began by watching the documentary “Embrace” and from that grew a community of like-minded souls, all seeking to embrace life. It hasn’t been without its challenges. I  have had times when the lure of dieting has called me back.  I surround myself with like-minded souls who are there to support me when I am rocky.

This one life we have is short folks and it is only one day at a time given to us.  Someday my vessel, this body of mine, will be returned to the earth and on that day, I am quite certain that the topics of conversation will not be centred on what I weighed.  I won’t take bets on what will be discussed either!  I choose today to live a life that is filled with moments of joy, pain, fear and embrace it all. Welcome it all and learn from it all.  I choose to have people in my corner who get me, I don’t need to explain or defend myself any longer.  Along the way, I have utilised many services including that of therapy as I had underestimated the profound effect this issue had on me. Today, I lift my face to the sun and nourish my body mind and spirit in healthy, life giving ways to the best of my ability… and I eat cake!

I have decided to bring this documentary once again to the community and with the support of the amazing women of the Leitrim Luna Nua Red Tent, they and I are hosting the documentary screening in the gorgeous Carrick Cineplex on Wednesday 29th November at 7p.m. For this screening it is a women’s event and tickets are almost gone so to reserve one please email me slattagirl@gmail.com indicating your name and mobile number. Tickets are €10 and I will be there from 6.15p.m. –  ready to embrace you all ( please form an orderly queue lol) I hope we will be able to host future screenings also and if anyone is living in the Midlands or West and is interested please do get in touch!

Many thanks Lorna for your beautiful story and words.  I hope it’s a wonderful evening for all.  xxx

Day 7 – It’s all Good! (06/10/17)

Well I pledged to do a week of my body is great because posts on Instagram.  (If you want to know what inspired this – it was a little picture from Michaela at BIM.  Your emails always spark some inspo babe!)  It’s been a blast.  I think I’ll have to come up with a new one for next month!

Today I wanted to blog about something that ties in with my day 7 post and give you some of the personal experience behind it!  Please don’t mistake this for wanting reassurance or likes or attention – I just hope that these posts and pics might inspire or help someone else.

SO!  My body is great because after years of abuse, neglect and selective hearing I am finally listening and it is all good.

Just over two months ago I embarked on a mission to tune in to my body, to start listening and understanding the messages it sends me, to help me to help myself and to spend some serious time and love on getting better, healthier, happier and (fingers crossed at the time!) as medication free as I could be.

This was no easy task when the thing that prompted me to take this route was the fact that I have hypothyroidism,  the symptoms of which doctor told me were perfectly treatable with levothyroxine – a synthetic T4 hormone to replace the one my poor little thyroid was lacking.    After a year and half of this treatment I found myself  not feeling any better.  In fact, before I decided myself to stop the medication I was feeling rotten and strongly suspect that perhaps I’d tipped over into hyper – having too much of said T4 hormone!  Anyway during a very candid conversation with my GP I was informed that I could either suffer the side effects I was experiencing with the medication and not have any hypothyroid symptoms, or drop the medication and learn to live with the symptoms when they returned.  I’ll be honest here and say I was totally gutted and very upset to think they were my only options.  My journey to diagnosis was a long one over many years of symptoms which never seemed to indicate that my thyroid should be checked.  I’ve been in the depths of depression and found it hard to fight my way back out.  I’ve been on antidepressants that didn’t work and wondered what on earth was wrong with me when talking didn’t work either! I’ve had days when it took all the strength I didn’t have just to get out of bed, and copious amounts of coffee and mind over matter to stay functioning all day.  My energy packed it’s bags and left on a pretty regular basis.  Quite often it took my joy with it.   There were a string of smaller issues that I have since found can be tied to hypothyroidism too.  I couldn’t seriously contemplate setting myself up for a return to that but I also couldn’t conceive of continuing to take a medication that not only wasn’t working but making me feel like shit.  Everything pointed to having to find another way.

So what’s a girl to do? I think I spent a day or two in a total funk unable to find my way out or come up with a plan.  This year there has been a massive shift in attitude one for me and choosing joy became my mantra for living.  To be so at odds with a body I do love seemed wrong and I needed a way out of this that would help me to help myself in as supportive, sensible and loving a way as I could possibly find.  I remembered a clarity call I had had early this year with Aisling Fitzgibbon which had hugely helped me but which I guess I was just not ready for at the time for a few reasons.  Aisling’s an occupational therapist and holistic nutrition coach – but don’t let that fool you as she is so much more than that!  Her philosophy to empower her clients by giving them the tools from within that they need to live happy, fulfilled, healthy lives with ease and joy sounded like it was too good to be true!  Thankfully it’s not.  I am so glad that I went back to her and that with her guidance I have returned to feeling  like my old self but with improvements.  I’ve worked on so much personal stuff that I had envisaged would be torturous and hard – but it has been joyous and liberating with the few tears I did shed being ones of relief and release.  I have let so much unneeded baggage and energy go that I feel lighter and better and so much more energised.  I won’t get into the details of it (yet!) but I can’t express in words how very grateful I am to be med free and well and happy.   I still have some way to go but am so glad that I made it this far.  There is no turning back.

I know my body, mind and soul are great, because I have finally reconnected with them and they’re being listened to and cherished and supported.   I know we are not just our bodies but they are our vehicles in this life and we are one with them and so we need to treat them with the loving care and respect we extend to everyone we love.   Mine has responded with joy to being slowly and gently loved back to health and I’m really feeling the influence of all the good that’s come flooding into my life this year.  Onwards and upwards with sparkles on!  xxx

http://www.instagram.com/joy.volution

My Body is Great! (29/09/17)

I get a fabulous email every second week from Michaela at Body Image Movement – full of news, inspiration and magic for us as ambassadors.  This week’s had a link to this news piece from included and I think it’s really worth a look.  My Body is great because…

I love Instagram mostly for the lovely pictures friends and the people I follow post.  I am pretty picky about the accounts I follow and keep it positive as possible.  I do my best to keep my own account varied and true to life as well as positive.  At the same time though, I can totally see how it is all about image and images – and how we need to fight back at filters and photo shopping and say enough already.

I love that this encourages us to see our own bodies and others in such a positive way.  I’m going to do a post a day on my instagram account for a week dedicated to “My body is great because…”  I hope you’ll join me over on my insta!  and help me celebrate all the reasons why our bodies are so great!

Selfie (26/09/17)

As part of a closed group we have on Facebook, born of the Embrace screenings and our photo shoot, we post a weekend selfie for two reasons:  1) as a self esteem shot of you being unapologetically you and doing your thing  and 2) as a check in for us all with each other as we don’t get to meet up often.  (My thing seems to be mostly hanging around talking about cleaning in my pjs by the way!)

Anyway, I usually post on a Saturday but last week was busy and preoccupied and didn’t feel like doing it as I was struck with a bit of a dark cloud of sadness.  On Sunday, because I felt sad and knew I just needed to go through it, I decided I wouldn’t post my weekend photo.  But there was a weird feeling that came with that and I couldn’t quite figure it out.  This is what my adventure this year (and probably way before that!) has been – getting in touch with the real authentic me and embracing that.  So why did I feel that I couldn’t/shouldn’t post a picture that said “I look like I feel”?  It felt indulgent and if I’m honest I was a little worried that it’d be perceived as looking for attention.  I didn’t want my “this is me” to be taken in any way other than “this is me”.    I knew it wouldn’t though – it was just an old habit of mine to think too much about what other people think and I needed to rid myself of that and be true to me.   And what better safe space than this wonderful group of flawsome folks who are keen to grab themselves and their lives and the lives of others with a big warm welcome embrace?  And so I posted…

It isn’t a pretty picture, but it was definitely 100% a perfect capture of that moment in time for me.  Sleepy, coffee in hand and making my way through the sadness.

And the response?  Well, that was what really made me sit up and rethink my own perceptions and see that what we need to connect with each other is honesty.   We have this insane notion that we need to present our lives as perfect to the outside world.  Mine is far from perfect.  I strive to make it lovely, and joyous and happy, but my perfect is a balance of lots of things that are far from faultless.  It’s mess and chaos and calm and sadness and happiness and all the things that life throws at you.  It’s taking it all and making sense of it to allow yourself room to live and experience life fully.   Sometimes perfect is made up of flaws – I see perfection in the strangest things and fabulous in some wonderfully quirky and beautiful flaws.   We are far more interesting when we are open and honest and real.   That’s not always easy, and it takes bravery to risk it and live with the outcome.   It takes digging deep and not being afraid to be vulnerable.   Bill would have said “it takes balls”.

One of Bill’s favourite authors was Ernest Hemingway.    I’m sure this was imprinted on my young brain quite early on, but I had lost it somewhere along the way.

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Now I believe we are all best people.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be destroyed too but if there was even a shadow of a doubt, I then found this while clearing out my bookshelves this week.  Bill again.

On the flip side there’s happy and a short week later, coffee in hand, sleepy and feeling so much better I posted another honest photo.  I had nothing on my mind here, only my brew and birdsong and a day of impending room clearance!  I felt really happy in myself here and wonderfully at peace.  It’s rare.  It’s also lovely!

In a world of photo-shopped images that tell us what we need to buy to look different to what we are, I hereby vow to attempt to keep this blog as real and as honest as I possibly can in an effort to encourage you to do likewise!  This is me.  Unfiltered.  Not buying it!  Not standing on the sidelines.  Not afraid (well not too afraid anyway!).  Choosing Joy, belonging, embracing and rocking the shit out of me! I hope you’re doing the same.  xxx